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RT BOOKclub Investigates The Mysterious Identity of Lady Whistledown

Ever since Julia Quinn introduced Regency gossip columnist Lady Whistledown in her 2000 bestseller The Duke and I, readers have been twittering over Lady W's true identity. Readers all over the globe have been weighing in on the mystery (Quinn was recently named Author of the Year in Korea!). RT is betting that the enigmatic lady's true identity will be revealed in Quinn's newest Bridgerton saga, ROMANCING MR. BRIDGERTON, the long-awaited love story of reader faves Colin and Penelope. (For us, the wait is even longer! Due to the secrecy surrounding Lady W's identity, Avon is not issuing advance copies. So look for the review in next month's RT BOOKclub.) But even if you haven't read any of the Bridgerton books, it's not too late to get in on the fun, as all the books work as stand-alone titles. For those keeping score at home, we've rounded up some of the likeliest suspects.

Suspect No. 1: Penelope Featherington

POINTS IN HER FAVOR: Our shy wallflower heroine doesn't miss much, and her status as an outsider allows for some distance, the better with which to poke a little fun at the antics of the ton's elite. Lady W has expressed a definite liking for Colin in the past, and we know that he gets snatched up in ROMANCING MR. BRIDGERTON. So if Lady W isn't Penelope, someone is going to be very jealous!

POSSIBLE RED HERRINGS: The society writer has been known to make some cracks about Penelope's unflattering wardrobe in previous novels.

Suspect No. 2: Lady Violet Bridgerton

POINTS IN HER FAVOR: Nobody knows gossip like Lady B. This mother of eight knows ALL the comings and goings of London's most fashionable personages. Lavish praise in the ton's most-read gossip column would also likely insure her Bridgerton brood's notoriety—the better to broker suitable marriages?

POSSIBLE RED HERRINGS: Lady W. has nothing but affection for the Bridgertons, but she has been known to poke a little fun at matchmaking mamas like Violet.

Suspect No. 3: Daphne Bridgerton

POINTS IN HER FAVOR: Lady Whistledown
has insider knowledge in the epilogue of
The Duke and I of what Daphne and Simon would name their yet-unborn son.

POSSIBLE RED HERRINGS: With four young children, would Daphne be able to keep up such a well-informed alter ego?

Suspect No. 4: Colin Bridgerton

POINTS IN HER FAVOR: With that unrestrained affection for Colin, could Lady Whistledown be merely a wolf in lady's clothing? The mischievous madam would be just the sort of prank Colin would love.

POSSIBLE RED HERRINGS: If it is Colin, he's certainly managed to nail down that feminine tone and eye for detail with remarkable
success—is any man so capable?

Suspects No. 5, 6 & 7: Eloise, Francesca & Hyacinth Bridgerton

POINTS IN HER FAVOR: The three youngest Bridgerton girls are almost as good at gossiping as their mother. Little pictures with big ears could be lurking unseen while some of society's follies go on around them.

POSSIBLE RED HERRINGS: With Eloise at 17, Francesca 16 and Hyacinth 10 when Lady Whistledown's columns start appearing, it's hard to believe they would have the maturity (or vocabulary) to pen these piercing pieces.

Suspect No. 8: Portia Featherington

POINTS IN HER FAVOR: Penelope's mother rivals Violet Bridgerton when it comes to finding suitable suitors for her daughters. This forceful lady is not one to cross.

POSSIBLE RED HERRINGS: It's doubtful Mrs. Featherington would have quite as much affection for the Bridgertons as does Lady Whistledown.

Suspect No. 9: Lady Danbury

POINTS IN HER FAVOR: Famous for her cutting wit, Lady Danbury is sharp enough to catch all sorts of nuances amongst the ton's complex relationships.

POSSIBLE RED HERRINGS: It's hard to believe anyone would choose to confide anything to Lady Danbury. The formidable woman isn't exactly a cuddly sort.

So who stands behind Lady Whistledown's mysterious facade? Guess we'll just have to wait and see! But take heart, Julia says, "Readers can expect something very special from Lady Whistledown early next year!"

All About The Bridgertons

Why is everyone so crazy about the Bridgertons? If Julia Quinn's fan mail is any indication, readers adore her signature blend of humor and tenderness. The style is light and funny, but all of the books have a more serious underlying theme. Quinn's characters have obstacles to overcome and when they fall in love, readers really believe it.

If you've missed any of the Bridgerton books, don't worry—all of the books stand alone, and you can jump in at any time. Here's a handy guide (including a look at what's to come) to the fabulous Bridgertons:

THE DUKE AND I (Daphne & Simon) The story that started it all—with Quinn's most tortured hero ever.

THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME (Anthony & Kate) If you haven't
read the Pall Mall scene, you haven't
read romance.

AN OFFER FROM A GENTLEMAN (Benedict & Sophie) Quinn's take
on Cinderella and a New York Times Bestseller!

ROMANCING MR. BRIDGERTON (Colin & Penelope) The one everyone
is waiting for—Penelope finally gets her man.

And there are more Bridgetons to come. Younger sister Eloise disappears mysteriously at the end of RMB; her story with hero Phillip will be released in summer 2003. Books for Francesca, Gregory and Hyacinth Bridgerton are also in the pipeline, so stay tuned!


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